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Saratoga Stack 8.27.23
A tough Travers Day at Saratoga
It’s been a tough year for racing. And it’s been a tough summer at Saratoga.
Travers Day felt like a possible elixir for some of that, with a strong field lined up in the Midsummer Derby.
But when New York Thunder broke down in deep stretch of the Allen Jerkens in the ninth race, after Nobel suffered a catastrophic injury on the gallop out of the fifth race, the hope of a “normal” Travers Day was gone.
I watched owners in tears after the ninth. Saw blank stares from dozens of fans in the build-up to the the Travers. Watched as many fans left the building well before the big race.
And I totally get it. In the tenth race, less than an hour after the tragic loss of New York Thunder, Echo Zulu put on a show - crushing the Ballerina in brilliant fashion and earning a 112 Beyer. It was an awesome performance. But the applause and cheering in the clubhouse was muted, likely as fans wondered how to feel. Myself included.
It’s been that sort of summer.
Racing has made major strides to make the game safer for equine athletes, cutting fatalities on the race track by 35% over the last ten years.
As Sean Clancy wrote in the Saratoga Special, you can make the game safer, but it will never be safe. We saw that with the brutal events of Saturday.
In the Travers, Arcangelo never looked like he wasn’t going to win the race. Great spot early under now seven-time Travers-winning jockey Javier Castellano. Then push-button speed around the turn before holding on gamely for the win over a rail-riding Disarm. Tapit Trice and his new blinkers to round out the trifecta. Forte for fourth and the superfecta.
We spent a lot of time previewing and handicapping the Travers. Arcangelo was a deserving winner and is now easily the top three-year-old in training. And maybe the favorite for the Breeders Cup Classic.
As of early Sunday morning, there was talk of NYRA canceling Sunday’s card. But the morning workouts went on as scheduled, fans reserved their tables all over the backyard and, well, it looked like a usual Sunday in Saratoga.
Saturday was not a normal Travers Day.
Today was always scheduled to be more of a ‘family day’ to end summer vacation, so I’ve not spent enough time on the card to post any picks. Those will be back on Wednesday to start the final week of the summer. Assuming they’re racing. I would understand if they don’t.
If you’re lucky enough to have won at the windows yesterday, Friday, or any day this meet, consider donating to some groups that take care of the horses after their careers are over. Here are a few.
TRF - Thorobred Retirement Foundation
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance https://www.thoroughbredaftercare.org/donation_now/